The Grand Babylon Hotel

5. What Occurred To Reginald Dimmock
IN another moment they were all three talking quite nicely, and with at any rate
an appearance of being natural. Prince Aribert became suave, even deferential
to Nella, and more friendly towards Nella's father than their respective positions
demanded. The latter amused himself by studying this sprig of royalty, the first
with whom he had ever come into contact. He decided that the young fellow was
personable enough, 'had no frills on him,'
and would make an exceptionally good commercial traveller for a first-class firm.
Such was Theodore Racksole's preliminary estimate of the man who might one
day be the reigning Grand Duke of Posen.
It occurred to Nella, and she smiled at the idea, that the bureau of the hotel was
scarcely the correct place in which to receive this august young man. There he
stood, with his head half-way through the bureau window, negligently leaning
against the woodwork, just as though he were a stockbroker or the manager of a
New York burlesque company.
'Is your Highness travelling quite alone?' she asked.
'By a series of accidents I am,' he said. 'My equerry was to have met me at
Charing Cross, but he failed to do so - I cannot imagine why.'
'Mr Dimmock?' questioned Racksole.
'Yes, Dimmock. I do not remember that he ever missed an appointment before.
You know him? He has been here?'
'He dined with us last night,' said Racksole - 'on Nella's invitation,' he added
maliciously; 'but to-day we have seen nothing of him. I know, however, that he
has engaged the State apartments, and also a suite adjoining the State
apartments - No. 55. That is so, isn't it, Nella?'
'Yes, Papa,' she said, having first demurely examined a ledger. 'Your Highness
would doubtless like to be conducted to your room - apartments I mean.' Then
Nella laughed deliberately at the Prince, and said, 'I don't know who is the proper
person to conduct you, and that's a fact. The truth is that Papa and I are rather
raw yet in the hotel line. You see, we only bought the place last night.'
'You have bought the hotel!' exclaimed the Prince.
'That's so,' said Racksole.
'And Felix Babylon has gone?'
'He is going, if he has not already gone.'
'Ah! I see,' said the Prince; 'this is one of your American "strokes". You have
bought to sell again, is that not it? You are on your holidays, but you cannot
resist making a few thousands by way of relaxation. I have heard of such things.'
'We sha'n't sell again, Prince, until we are tired of our bargain. Sometimes we tire
very quickly, and sometimes we don't. It depends - eh? What?'
Racksole broke off suddenly to attend to a servant in livery who had quietly
entered the bureau and was making urgent mysterious signs to him.
'If you please, sir,' the man by frantic gestures implored Mr Theodore Racksole to
come out.